Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dhone Pata Chicken -- to wrap up the year




Why do you love food ? Because it satisfies you, it gives you pleasure, sheer unadulterated pleasure.

But why do you remember food ? Why do you want to go back to the comfort of dal-chawal even when sushi lures you? Why does cooking and eating a certain something open a floodgate of memories ? Why do dome food remind you of homecoming as no other ?

Read more...





While some food like alu posto and musuri'r dal remind me of home, a home where I was brought up, there are others which remind me of a home , I made for myself.

Like the Dhone Pata Chicken ( chicken cooked with corriander leaves). This is a chicken dish we would cook almost twice every week, when we first set up home a decade back. So if I was not making my trademark egg curry and dal, D was making this Dhone Pata Chicken. It was very different from any of the bengali chicken dishes my Ma used to make, yet it was hard core Bengali, with its fragrant paanch phoron and dry red chillis. Cooked in a pressure cooker with lots and lots of fresh green corriander leaves, it would fill up the corners of our home with a fragrance that I can never forget.

When I crossed oceans and continents, survived canceled flights and delayed landings into a new country, I remember this dhone pata chicken that I had sitting cross legged on bare, polished wood floor, scraping clean the white china plate kindly given by some good hearted chinese colleague of D's.





For a while after that this was an often cooked chicken dish at our home not only for ourselves but for anyone who cared to drop by. Over the years as I have picked up new cooking skills and new recipes, this dish has been pushed aside, in favor of Chicken casserole or Chicken Korma.Dhone Pata Chicken just never got made because I had something else bookmarked.

To wrap up the year and to welcome the new, I wanted to cook something to remind me where I stand, of what is important to me, to reinstate my faith in what I already have. And what could be better than the fragrance of paanch phoron mingled with fresh corriander to remind me Home is the most important pace to be, bookmarks can always wait.





This lovely dish is light and subtly spiced, no heavy spices or creamy richness mars the dominant flavors of corriander. It is comfort personified in a bowl with some white rice. In the initial days when we cooked this, there was no blender or processor used, everything was just plain chopped. I have made pastes and purees here but you can replace all that by plain simple chopping or coarse pounding using a mortar-pestle

Chicken with Corriander -- DhonePata Chicken


Serving size
I used 2-3lb of a whole small Chicken cut in small pieces. This was good for 4-5 people.
Note: I usually buy whole chicken skinned. So when I say 2-3lb chicken I mean the weight of the chicken with bones et al



Prep

Marinate the chicken pieces with
1 tbsp of lime juice,
1 tsp of Mustard Oil
3/4 tbsp of ginger paste,
1 tsp of garlic paste,
salt
and little turmeric
for an hour or two. Note: For a little more spice add a little cumin and corriander powder to the marinade.

In a blender make a paste of
3 cloves of garlic,
1 tbsp of chopped ginger(1 & 1/2" ginger peeled and chopped),
3-4 green chilli,
1/3 cup of chopped coriander leaves,
1 tbsp of water

Start Cooking

Heat about 5-6 tbsp of oil in a Kadhai or saute pan

Add about 1 tsp and little more of Paanch Phoron and 2 cracked dry red chili

When you get the fragrance of the spices add about 1 cup of chopped red onion(sliced in half moon shape). I went ahead and also added about 3 shallots chopped in quarters but that is optional and you can just add some more regular onion. Fry the onion with about 1/2 tsp of sugar till onion is pink and translucent, turning little brown on the edges

Add the ginger-garlic-coriander leaves paste to above and fry for a minute or so

Add finely chopped 1 plump red tomato or just puree the tomato and add to above.Saute till the raw smell from the tomato is gone

Add about 1 tsp of coriander powder and almost 1 tsp of cumin powder. Some Kashmiri Mirch or Paprika gives a nice color so add about 1/2 tsp of that. With a sprinkle of water, fry the masala till it is nicely incorporated with everyting else and the whole thing looks like a brown mess with oil seeping from the edges

Add the chicken pieces and with about 1/4 tsp of turmeric saute the chicken till they turn a nice yellow color. Around 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of chopped green fresh coriander leaves(stalks and all),
salt to taste
and about 1cup of water.
Cover the lid and let the chicken cook. If you want more jhol/gravy then add little more water.

Note: I usually make this chicken in the pressure cooker. After adding the coriander leaves, salt and water in the last step, I let the gravy simmer. Once it starts simmering, I close the pressure cooker lid. My pressure cooker is a Futura brand which doesn't whistle and I have to time it. I usually cook it for approx. 3 minutes at full pressure. The chicken pieces become fall apart soft this way.

Every time you lift the lid this beautiful fragrance will engulf you, so for your own pleasure do that. Else just let the chicken cook. Once it is done garnish with some more fresh coriander leaves and serve with hot white rice. The gravy is usually light and soupy and tastes best with rice or just by itself

Wish you all a Magnificent Year Ahead





Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dim diye Palang Shak -- Egg-Palak Burji





Today I will be very honest with you, bare soul honest. A decade back I was not interested in cooking, at all. All that bovine poop about " smell of jeera bringing me solace" that I have in my About section, was well "bovine poop" to me. I never even dreamt that cooking could actually be therapeutic. Now eating was another genre altogether, that I loved. I sincerely believed Eating good was not only therapeutic but also pushed you closer to that non-attainable Nirvana.

It is not that I didn't know how to cook, I knew the basic dal, bhaat, macher jhol and also noodles and chili chicken. I did help my Mom to some extent around the kitchen but that was in fits and start and I wasn't one of those prodigies who bake cake at age 8 and biryani at age 12.Relatives in their right mind didn't often ask me to help out in the kitchen, for that I had that "prodigy cousin".

I started cooking for survival, once I moved out to my first job in Bombay. After a month of eating out, me and my room mate got a cute red clix stove and decided to venture out in the hitherto unknown land of homecooking. My room mate was worse than me, she claimed "she had never cooked before". So with my minimal repertoire, I started and every evening cooked either an egg curry or dal while roomy made rice.

There are mythical tales of my cooking from those days, which will make a nice story for a future post and so we shall hold onto them for now..

D, the husband on the other hand was a cooking geek, a freak of nature, the kind who chop vegetables in equi dimension and whose eggs boil just right each time, every time. He is and always was like Alton Brown (strictly cooking wise), very much into the techniques and science of cooking.

So while I was trying out new dunking techniques(another story !!!) in Mumbai and trying to cook with passion, he was creating a new following 998km away in another city. He was the self appointed chef of cooking morons who thought he was the domestic diva, just because he could make the perfect omlette and delicious chicken curry. I hope those morons learned survival skills on the way or got beaten up by their wife in later life.

Anyway to impress such people, this guy, the now husband twisted old recipes and created new dishes. One of them was Palak Burji, a spinach stir fried with eggs. This dish impressed me so much, that I decided to marry him and wrapped up my belongings and moved the 998km distance. Ok actually not this dish exactly but my cooking skills were so short of my own aspirations, that I was ready to marry any decent willing guy who would happily cook a good meal and clean up after that every evening and still maintain a decent paying day job.

That such "eagerness to cook & clean do not last forever" and "grass on the other side is always greener" and "people in glass houses...." is another proverb but who am I to complain, there is always Palak Burji aka Dim diye Palang Shaak and a guy who occasionally cooks and loads the dishwasher every night.




Egg-Palak Burji on toast for fussy 6 year olds


This Egg-Palak Burji is a very simple, yet excellent dish, too simple if you have frozen spinach 'coz that is the only way I have done this. If you leave the egg out, it is my Ma's plain old palang shak bhaja but she never had frozen spinach and she could also chop her spinach really really fine. So if you don't have frozen chopped spinach but can chop your spinach real fine you are good to go else pressure cook your spinach and coarsely mash it up before proceeding.


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Egg Palak Burji



Cook 3 cups of frozen chopped spinach in microwave for a minute or two. When the green is cool to touch, squeeze out any excess water. Note: If you don't have frozen spinach, you can use fresh spinach chopped really fine. Or you can cook the spinach in pressure cooker and mash it up coarsely

Heat Oil in a saute pan

Temper with 1/4 tsp of Paanch Phoron

When the spices start dancing around, add 2 cloves of garlic minced, 2 slit green chilli and quarter of a red onion chopped fine

Saute till the onion is brownish pink

Add the spinach and saute till spinach is no longer releasing water and is cooked. Note: With frozen spinach and microwaving this step is like almost pre-done. With fresh spinach which has been cooked in pressure cooker and mashed up, it might take a while for water to dry up

Move the spinach to the edges and add a little more oil to the same pan

Break an egg (or two) into it and vigorously stir till egg is scrambled up

Add salt to taste and combine to bring in all the flavors.

This goes excellently with some hand mate Rotis or Phulkas. I love it with Rice. For fussy 6 year olds, put it on a toast and garnish with some cheese.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chettinad Fish Fry & God

Deep thoughts around Christmas time

Big Sis S: Did you know Jesus died and then came back again ?

Me: Yes

BSS: Did you know that was during Easter ?

Me: Yes

BSS: So is he around now or did he again go to heaven ?

Me: He became old, got tired of living here and so went back to heaven

BSS: So what, he is an angel now ?

Unsure Me:Mmmm, I think he became God

BSS: How can Jesus be GOD, GOD is his father, remember Jesus is God's son.

Very unsure Me: Mmmm....

Now exasperated BSS: So what happened to GOD ? Did GOD become something else ? Or is GOD is no longer there ?

Very very unsure Me: Maybe GOD retired.





And with that said, lets have some Chettinad Fish Fry. I had never had Chettinad Fish Fry until a couple of months back. We had brought home, some steak pieces of sword fish and being new to sword fish, wasn't sure what to make of them. D suggested Chettinad Fish Fry which apparently he had at Legal Seafoods and had liked a lot. Of all the recipes on Chettinad Fish that turned up on Google, he said the dry one at Malar's Kitchen Tantra seemed closest to the fish fry he had tasted. I followed the recipe exactly and only skipped the tamarind paste because we are not too fond of that much sourness. I also did not add the eggs, all else was followed to the tee.
The fry turned out to be delicious and since then I have made the Chettinad Fish Fry with Sword Fish and also Tilapia. The pic here is the one with Tilapia fillet.


Read more...






Original recipe here.

Chettinad Fish Fry



The following recipe is for 5-6 pieces of fish

Dry Grind
1 tsp of Fennel seeds
2 Cloves

1" stick of Cinnamon
1 tsp Coriander seeds
3 Dry red chilies
1 tsp Peppercorns

Make a wet paste of
2 cloves of Garlic
1" Ginger

Prepare a marinade with
Dry Masala,
Wet Masala and
salt

little Turmeric
Chili powder to taste
3 tsp Lemon juice

Note: I skipped 1 tsp Tamarind paste
Marinate the fillet of fish or steak pieces of fish in this marinade for 1 - 2 hours

Heat oil in a Frying Pan. I shallow fried the fish so not too much oil.

Add quarter of an onion finely sliced , fry till translucent. Add 3-4 curry leaves. Remove and keep aside

Add the fish pieces and cook till both sides are brown and crisp. Add the fried onions and curry leaves

Serve hot


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bhaja Moog er Dal -- sabji diye




I thought I was done with pre-holiday posting and could get on with my life with minimal cooking & much entertaining till the next week. Only 2 more days to a 4 day holiday weekend makes you feel like that.

But then there came the snow, and what a snowfall it was. Unlike the washingtonians who take their snow seriously and stock themselves up, we are more lackadaisical. We think, what will 12 inches of snow do to us as so we relax, until we see we are in deep sh** err snow and the pantry lacks bare necessities like onions and Marie Biscuit. Fortunately there were enough leftovers from the Friday night impromptu party, to tide over two meals. But the soul was still craving deep fried pakodas or something hot in a bowl.




What could a Bong female do in such a situation but make a bowlful of Bhaja Moog er Dal(Roasted Yellow Moong dal). She went an extra half mile, in her head, not snow and added cauliflowers and shrimp to it. That made it a bowl of warm, yellow goodness in the midst of a white snowy December.

In other news we have a Christmas tree this time, yeah our first time. The Christmas potluck party has decided to be hosted in our home and since we were asked not to cook anything except, ahem, Rice, the best we could do is bring home Christmas cheer in way of a cheap, $35 plastic tree. Sorry Charlie Brown, couldn't get a wooden Christmas Tree, this time.



Charlie Brown's Christmas on Hulu, free until Jan 1, 2010
And that brings on another question. Since Christmas seems to be all about Giving, how do you like Giving ? Do you like to Give where you are recognized as a Giver and can brag about it with a pink pin, a printed name, a plaque in your name or do you believe in selfless giving, where the giver actually keeps a low profile and giving is really about the other person and not you. Do you think 'Selfish' Giving is less moral and ruins the spirit of giving ? Read more...
Back to the Bhaja Moog er dal or the Dry Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, which with its nutty roasted aroma claims to be one of those landmark Bengali Dals. This Dal is rich enough to be served on important occasions like pre-wedding lunches etc. and also is served for comforting home lunches. This has a vegetarian version and a fishy version with fish head or a more international Bengali version with shrimp. The one here is a combination of the veggies and fish in form of cauliflower and shrimp. 
Get this recipe in my Book coming out soon. Check this blog for further updates. 
Bhaja Moog'er Dal
Roast the Dal Dry roast   1 & 1/2 cup of Yellow Moong Dal for 6-8 minutes at medium heat. You should not burn the dal in the process, as soon as you get a nice , warm roasted nutty aroma, you know you are done.   Note: Dry roast means, do not use oil, roast it dry. Wash the roasted dal in several changes of cold water. Cook the Dal You can cook the dal two ways. If using a pressure cooker, put the roasted and washed lentils in the cooker with double amount of water and a little turmeric. Cook for 3-4 mins at full pressure. If you are not using the cooker, put the dal with about 4 cups of water and a little turmeric in a pot on the stove top. Let it cook. The dal will bubble and froth, skim the froth. Add more water if necessary and cook till lentils are soft and edible but not mushy. This will take a good half hour to get cooked   Temper the Dal I have used cauliflower and shrimp here. You can make this completely vegetarian by using cauliflower and green peas or just green peas. You can also use greens like finely chopped spinach though peas and cauliflower are more popular choices. Clean and devein 8-10 medium sized shrimp, sprinkle salt and keep aside for 5 minutes. Chop quarter of a cauliflower in small florets. We need about 10-12 small florets. Heat Oil(or Ghee) in a soup pot/kadhai. Fry the shrimp with a little turmeric. As soon as they turn a light orange, remove and keep aside. Fry the cauliflower florets till they get little brown spots, remove and keep aside. Add a little more oil to the pot. About 1/2 tsp of ghee at this point works very well. Temper the oil with   1 tsp of Cumin seeds,  2 small bay leaf,  1" thin cinnamon stick,  3 dry red chilli. When the spices sputter, add   1 heaped tsp of fresh grated ginger or ginger paste. Saute for half a min and add the cooked dal. Add salt and mix well. If the dal is too thick, add about 1 and 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer and come to a boil. Add 1/4-1/2 tsp of sugar and mix. Add the cauliflower and shrimp, mix and switch off the heat. If you have not used Ghee as the cooking medium stir in 1/2 -- 1 tsp of Ghee and let the dal sit for 10 mins to soak the flavors before serving.   Note: I do not add ghee when I am making this for just us, so you can skip if you want but it does lend a lot of flavor. I like a slight hint of lime in my dal and so I added a tsp of sliced lemon grass to this dal. This is definitely optional but lends a nice touch. Eat this dal as a soup or with white rice. This dal goes to MLLA 18 hosted by Srivalli and started off by dear Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Nutella Chocolate Truffles -- oodles of delight




If you close your eyes and take a deep breath, you can feel the warm fuzzy feeling of the holidays, warm, gooey, rich, chocolatey like Nutella. If you are out in the mall you can feel the last minute crazy holiday shopping. Both ways you feel the warmth of the season and you need that because it is so darn cold out there that you would want to hibernate.

Christmas always holds a special place in my heart, a convent school does that to you. You spend winter holidays copying red poinsettias and waxing candles from glossy gilted Christmas picture cards and impose those works of art unto gullible relatives, you insist your parents bake or at least get a cake on Christmas because it is Jesus' birthday, you think "Silent Night" is the most melodious thing on earth and you wish you could hang up a stocking.

I appreciate Christmas all the more now, it is at least something to look forward to till Spring makes its arrival. Imagine cold dark winters without a single house with twinkling fairy lights in your neighborhood , how dull would that be. I like it better because I don't have much shopping to do, I can relax and just bask in the holiday feeling.





To light up your cold days, I have something special today. Guess what ? Nutella and Chocolate Truffles. If someone would have told me last week that I would make chocolate truffles I would have muttered "in your dreams". I always thought truffles or anything that sounds as "ruffles" is mighty hard. Right ? Absolutely wrong. These Nutella Chocolate Truffles are so easy that a 8 year old could make it. This absolute gorgeous recipe is from Sunita's Nutella and Dark Chocolate Truffles. I blindly followed her recipe and because S loves decorating sprinkles I used those instead of using nuts etc. to roll the truffles in. I rolled some in cocoa powder though. These were a big surprise for S and she couldn't believe I made them at home. Thanks Sunita.





These make great holiday gifts for the kiddos and their play dates and their Moms and Dads and grandparents and....

I am sending this off to Cham@Spiceclub for her MEC event which was originally started by Srivalli. This also goes to Sugar High Friday -- Holiday Edition @Cherrapeno

Happy Holidays



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Nutella and Chocolate Truffles




What You Need

400 gms of nutella
100 gms of dark chocolate
4tblsp of honey
1 tblsp of ghee ( clarified butter)

How I Did It

In a microwave safe bowl, place all the nutella, dark chocolate, honey and ghee.

Microwave the mixture till the chocolate melts. In my microwave it took about 2 and 1/2 mins at full power

Remove the bowl from the microwave. With a spoon, stir the mixture vigorously till smooth. Magically the mixture will slowly start transforming to a dough. Shape it into a lump, place it again in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill till the mixture is firm enough to roll into balls. I chilled the dough for about 40 mins.

While rolling, work fast and with your hand make balls by rolling between your palms like you would do for say Coconut Laddoos. Wet your palms to avoid chocolate sticking to the palm.If the mixture begins to feel too soft, chill a little more. Place the balls in mini muffin cups.

If you are rolling the balls in cocoa powder or rolling in sprinkles, do so and chill again before serving. For other ideas see Sunita's recipe.

Take out from the refrigerator a minute before serving to soften it a wee bit.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roti etc.





S is not too fond of Roti or as we say Ruti. The only way she likes Roti is an Roti Omlette or Roti rolled around meatballs. Roti with veggies is an Oh No !!

Inspired by Indosungod's version I made an Indianized Quesadilla for her. This time it was an Oh Yes !!!

Though I had made this beet-carrot sabzi which I used as a filling you can try with any other kind of dry veggie dish you have

What I Did was this:

Make a Beet Carrot sabzi like this, minus the green chillis. This time I added half a potato to it because S loves potatoes and also added a squeeze of lime juice to the cooked veggies. The lime juice balanced out the sweetness of the beet very nicely

I had home made roti/Chapati. You can also use tortillas.

Place the sabzi as a filling for the roti, sprinkle some shredded cheese, cut in half, and put in the oven for the cheese to melt. You can do it on the stove top on a griddle too. Butter the lightly crisped top of the roti

This made for a lovely dinner yesterday. Indo says these also make great lunch box items. So try it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Macaroni, Macaroni in a Cup





Why is there so much discussion about Princess Tianna's skin color ? Do kids even care about such things in an animated character ? If so wouldn't they break their head about how Arthur looks and what a garish purple Barney is ?

I have little patience with Disney princesses though I think Snow White is cute and has a pretty hair do.

All I want to tell those girls, the princesses I mean, is

"Whatever your skin color, body weight and height might be, can you develop a new purpose in life other than kissing a prince, or kissing anyone for that matter ? Can you do something else like maybe saving the planet or jumping around roofs a la Spiderman ? If you think all that is too hard, that is fine, let your hair down and lead a normal princess life, help Dad rule the kingdom, go study, do whatever but do not spend all your time kissing and dancing and waiting for that god damn prince."







For a long time S loved macaroni and cheese. She wouldn't eat the authentic macaroni & cheese and so would never eat it outside home. The way she liked it was very very simple. Just cook elbow macaroni according to package directions --> put drained macaroni in a microwave safe bowl --> add enough cheese + little milk --> microwave till cheese melts --> DONE.

Gradually she moved on but still liked pasta. Pasta tossed in a little garlicky olive oil with some veggies were a favorite. Then her love was the penne in a sun-dried tomato sauce. Elbows were however no longer sought as much.

After a long time I brought home a box of elbow macaroni last week. Main intention was to introduce A to macaroni. I also got a can of organic red kidney beans. Why not combine the two I thought and so it was Macaroni with red kidney beans. S wasn't too excited to see it, but at the end she loved it enough to take for a school lunch.

I particularly thought this made a very wholesome meal with the carb, the protein, the fiber all coming together in one simple, hassle free dish.

With the remaining Pasta, I made mini Pasta Cups as done by Soma@ecurry. Mine didn't look half as cute as hers but I thought they make real cute finger foods for little ones, perfect for the 3-4 year old. Its another thing that grownups in my home loved it too. See I knew you could never guess.


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Macaroni with Kidney Beans



Boil elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain the starch in cold water and toss in olive oil

Heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan

Add finely chopped onion and fry til onion is soft. Add finely sliced carrots or as I did S's favorite, french cut beans.

Add some canned red kidney beans(rinsed in running water) and saute for a couple of minutes

Add tomato puree or tomato ketchup and kind of mash up the kidney beans

Add the macaroni and combine

Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little nutmeg powder and mix well

Now sprinkle fair amount of shredded cheese on top. Put in the microwave for about 15 secs or so to melt the cheese

Serve immediately. If packing for school lunch do not melt cheese, instead use grated cheese.

Mini Pasta Cups



To make the mini Pasta Cups, combine some of the above pasta with flour and mix.

Grease lightly muffin pans or silicone cups

Spoon the pasta into the cups and put some shredded cheese on top

Bake at 375 F for 10 mins or so till cheese melts

Eat warm

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Apples with Nutella





Apples with Nutella make a great snack. How do you eat your Nutella or for that matter Apples ?





And now guess what we have for tomorrow. It is nothing that you are thinking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stir Fried Egg Noodles




What is it about enlarged mammary glands and disproportionate stick thin limbs that attract little girls ?

What is it about Barbie ?

"The Venezuelan government has spent $1.4m (£860,000) importing 124,000 toys from China and is selling them at rockbottom prices in its first socialist toy fair. Barbies sold out within the first few days"

Me, I have yet to give in.


"


Stir fried Noodles are an all time favorite with S. Strangely this is one of the few dishes that have survived the taste of time. Most Saturday brunches at our home is egg noodles with vegetables, eggs, shrimps and maybe sausages, cooked mostly by her Dad. For weekday packed school lunch I make a similar but quicker version with Maggi minus the tastemaker.

This is a favorite with the adults in our home too. With a dash of hot sauce and some green chillie in vinegar, this easily converts to a bowl of spicy delight.



Stir Fried Egg Noodles


Cook 250 gms of egg noodles according to package directions. I usually add a few drops of oil and salt to the water and let it come to a rolling boil. Break the noodles by hand and add it to the water. Once the noodles are cooked, drain in running cold water and toss with a little olive oil. This will help to keep the strands separate and not turn into muck.

Heat Vegetable Oil in a wok

Add 2 cloves of garlic minced followed by 1 medium onion finely chopped

Fry the onion till it is soft and translucent

Cook veggies like sliced carrots, french cut beans, spring onions, peas etc. in the microwave. I have added carrots, french cut beans and asparagus this time. I also add small florets of broccoli or cauliflower at times. Thinly sliced cabbage and bell peppers are another common choice.

Add the veggies to the wok and stir fry for a minute or two, at high heat. Alternately, stir fry the veggies separately and keep aside.

To the wok, add salt to taste, a sprinkle of white pepper powder, about 2 tsp of Dark Soy Sauce, 1 tsp of White Vinegar and 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup. Add a tsp of green chili sauce for grown ups.
.
Mix well and then add the noodles. Combine the noodles with the sauce and veggies and fry for a couple more minutes. If you have stir fried the veggies separately, now is the time to add them to the noodles in the wok.

Meanwhile in a separate frying pan, cook sausage and eggs. I usually scramble eggs and chop the sausage. You can skip this step or do your own thing

Add the eggs and sausage to the noodles and toss to combine. If it is only for grownups I add some green chili rounds to vinegar and then at the end add these green chilies to the noodles.

Adjust for seasoning and serve. This also makes for a great lunch box item.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bread Pizza -- easy pizza bites





December is a special month for Big Sis S. And in her honor I am going to post recipes of food that she likes to eat, for the whole of next week. Now S likes good food and so she likes a lot of grown up food, her recent favorites being the Pepper Shrimp and Chicken Korma. If the food is hot but to her liking she will gladly eat it with a bowl of yogurt on the side. But if not, then it is another story.

For this week, I am going to concentrate only on those recipes which is solely intended for her. These are stuff which makes her face glow and she will eat them without any cajoling. These will be mostly quick and easy stuff which also make good lunch box items.We also love those but these are kid specific versions, mildly spiced, wholesome and healthy, I mean healthy for kids, me I try to stay away from too much cheesy stuff.

I know one week is not enough to blog all of them but I will see how much I can do.





I am also going to try out new easy kid friendly recipes from other blogs, easy being the keyword. To start off is this Bread Pizza which is inspired by Sailaja's Kids Zone which by the way has volumes of great kid friendly recipes. S loved it and so did we. Actually S liked it so much that she took over and prepared most of the bread slices before I popped them in the oven. Thanks Sailaja for such a kid pleaser.


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Bread Pizza



Soften butter and spread smoothly on slices of brown wheat bread. You can use white but brown is better Note: I tried some without the butter and they were as good

Spread tomato ketchup in a thin layer on top of it

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan

Add some finely chopped onion and fry till onion is soft and pink

Add steamed broccoli, chopped in small florets and fry for a minute. You can substitute with other veggies like carrots, corn or bell peppers too

Add a little pasta sauce and mix well. If you don't have pasta sauce season with salt and pepper.

Spoon this topping on the bread slice





Cover with enough shredded cheese on top

We also added a slice of Kraft singles cut up in bits

Bake in the oven at 375 for 8-10 mins or so till the cheese melts

The yummy and easy bread pizza is ready

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Aam Kheer -- sunshine in December





See how pretty it looks.

Warm, sunny happy that is what you would say looking at this delicious Aam Kheer or Mango Kheer and there is no two thoughts about it. It is magnificently delicious, if there was a phrase like that.

But warm, sunny, happy was not how my mood was when I was making it. Not the dish's fault really but mine.

My Ma used to make kheers like this very often, in winter she would add kamla lebu(oranges) to make the sweet, luscious kamola kheer, in other times she would add rasgulla to this kheer to make rosogolla'r payesh and during summer it would be mangoes to make aam kheer. Ok, actually aam kheer was rare, mangoes were much enjoyed as is.
The casual air with which she made it, made the whole process seem extremely easy and quick. You were lulled into the false belief that saying "Abra Cadabra" reduces whole 1 liter of milk to a quarter in a jiffy. And she even smiled at the end of that process, a smile of content.





Me, I have many virtues(ahem!!), sadly patience does not top that list. So Last Thursday when I started the process of reducing a mere 1 liter of milk around 10 at night, my mood had turned severely sour after the first 45 minutes. The milk was stubborn, needed to be babysat and craved much more mollycoddling than Baby A. The fact that I had had a long day and needed to be up by 6 next morning made me more edgy and I was throwing around angry looks and angrier words by 11.

D meanwhile was standing by the sink and calmly licking the lid and bottom of the condensed milk can in a manner which called for severe caustic remarks. A guy who doesn't have any respect for rules in the kitchen and that includes, the kheer maker gets to lick the condensed milk can, is a threat to the kitchen environment and needs to be dealt by K(Kitchen)PA if not EPA.

Finally around 20 past 11 the milk had reduced to half of its original, my Ma insists on reducing a little bit more, but I had reached my limits.





After a night in the refrigerator, the kheer had thickened a little more and it was just perfect the next day. This time I served a little differently by layering and mixing mango pulp only for the second layer (as in Serving Suggestion 2 in the recipe). It helped that I had only few guests so I could prepare a serving for each beforehand and then chill in the refrigerator. This aam kheer (mango kheer) was a major hit, it was such a creamy mango delight that people just loved it.

This is actually a very easy dessert, the only thing to keep in mind is not trying to start the process when time is a constraint or one is tired. This works very well made ahead though. So you can make the plain kheer a couple of days ahead when you have time and just serve it on the day of the party.


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Aam Kheer/Mango Kheer



What You Need

Whole Milk ~ 1 litre

Sweetened Condensed Milk ~ 1 can

Sugar ~ 1/3 cup or less

Mango Pulp ~ 1 cup. Either use fresh mangoes to make the pulp or use a canned one

Fruits ~ Small pieces of cubed mangoes if they are in season else a can of Dole Tropical fruits cut up in bite size pieces

Few strands of saffron

Blanched slivered almonds or Pistachios for garnish

How I Did It

In a heavy bottomed deep pan heat the milk

Bring the milk to boil and then stir it intermittently

Add a can of condensed milk and continue the process of stirring

When the milk has reduced a little add the sugar. Note: If you don't like too sweet avoid the sugar

Keep on stirring continuously at medium heat till the milk has reduces to almost half the initial volume. By this time the color of the milk would take on a creamy hue and it would have thickened. Continuous stirring is necessary else the milk may stick to the bottom and burn. This process of reducing the milk will take a little more than an hour at medium heat.

Add a few strands of saffron when the milk has almost reduced to the desired consistency

The consistency is now like smooth kheer

Pour in a serving bowl and put in the refrigerator.

Now to serve I do it two ways

Serving Suggestion 1: Once the kheer has cooled down, add 1 cup of mango pulp and mix well. While serving serve with cubes of fresh mangoes or if mangoes are not in season serve with any other tropical fruit. I have used Dole canned tropical fruits for this purpose. Garnish with blanched slivered almonds or pistachios and serve chilled. This is how it is done in Indrani's Aam Kheer

Serving Suggestion 2: Once the kheer has cooled down, divide in two portions.
To one half add 1/2 cup of mango pulp and swirl. The other half remains plain.

In a parfait glass or wine glass or a dessert bowl add a layer of the Plain kheer(the portion without mango). Add cubes of fresh mangoes or if mangoes are not in season any other tropical fruit. I have used Dole canned tropical fruits for this purpose.

Top this with a layer of the kheer with mango pulp

Garnish with blanched slivered almonds or pistachios


Similar Recipes:

Orange Kheer or Kamola Kheer


Easy Mango Dessert -- done in minutes

Paayesh -- the traditional rice kheer

Monday, December 07, 2009

Mirchi Curry -- 'ants on fire




Lovely Long Hot Peppers


There now Winter is here. We had our first Snow this Saturday. I am not too fond of winter. The thing I hate about winter is bundling up the kids in layers to even go to the grocery store. A simple task takes hours in just preparation. Coats waiting to be zipped, leggings to be worn, the cap messing the hair, the car seat now gets uncomfortable, the two young things shout out protests, the thought itself drives me nuts.

I like winter as long as I am allowed to stay inside. Inside the home it is warm and cozy and you truly start appreciating what "warm and cozy" means. Such was this Saturday, snowing in white fluffs outside while we sat in the warm glow of the fireplace, eating hot hot Mirchi Curry.





This curry is inspired by Nupur's alu dum which again was inspired by Trupti's alu dum recipe. Instead of potatoes I decided to use long hot peppers in the creamy curry. Some heat to warm up the palate.

Ok truth be told I wanted to make a Mirchi ka salan like this or this. But then except for the long hot peppers I had no other ingredients. But I still desperately wanted to have Mirchi in a Curry and so in a fit of inspiration used Nupur's curry as a base for the beautiful hot peppers.

The Mirchi Curry or Long Hot Peppers in a creamy gravy was truly delicious and enjoyed by all barring the kids. The dish does have a fair amount of heat (though long hots are not too hot) and so be careful while cooking and eating. Though I have used long hot peppers for this dish you can use other type of hot peppers. For other kinds you may need to de-seed to reduce the heat


Read more...










Mirchi Curry -- Long Hot Peppers in a gravy



Serves: 5-6 people

Cut 8-10 long hot peppers in 4ths each(i.e. each cut in 4 ). Sprinkle salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast in one single layer at 375 for 30-40 mins.Note: These are my toaster oven settings and time may vary in a regular one. Take care not to burn but just brown the peppers. More on roasting long hot peppers.

Soak 1/4 cup of cashew or slivered blanched almonds in water. Yes, what can I say, I have too many almonds in my pantry :-)

Heat oil in a frying pan. Saute 1 medium onion diced + 2 cloves of garlic + 1" ginger peeled and chopped till onion is soft and lightly browned. Add 1 medium tomato chopped in large chunks and fry till tomato softens

Cool the above and grind to a fine paste along with the cashew(or
blanched almonds) and very little water

Heat Oil now for cooking

Temper with 1/4 tsp of Nigella seeds and 1/2 tsp of Cumin seeds

Add the masala(onion + cashew etc.) paste that you have prepared and fry till you see oil seeping out of the masala

Add 1 tsp Kasoori Methi, Turmeric, salt and a little Paprika for the color. Mix well.

Add about 1 cup of 2% Milk. Add water if required for the gravy. Let the gravy simmer to a boil

Add the roasted long hot peppers and cook until the gravy thickens to a creamy consistency. Add a little sugar to taste, a little garam masala and very little chopped corriander.

Serve with Roti or Rice. It is fiery hot but in a pleasant way.



Trivia: There is debate whether or not men and women sense capsaicinoids(the substance that gives chilli peppers their intensity) similarly. Research carried out by the University of Reading shows that the effect of Capsicum chinense is elevated in the conjunction with testosterone. Thus men are more affected than women. Now you know why a pepper spray is effective

Friday, December 04, 2009

Doi Fulkopi -- Cauliflower in Yogurt Sauce





This Thanksgiving we were spending time with friends. Friends from days way back and it was a wonderful time spent with great food, company and total relaxation if you can relax with 3 kids shouting and screaming under one roof that is.

The morning of the day we were to drive back, we went to a nearby state park. The drive from their home to the park was beautiful. Amidst rolling green fields and farms, the street meandered. You know it was that idyllic kind of thing, with cute farms and red barns and healthy cows and shiny horses.

As is my nature, I said "One day I want to have a farm like that". Immediately the friend said "Yeah this is the kind of work I would like to do, raising hens and planting seeds and growing trees".Then the other said " In a couple of years I am going to leave my job, I am so tired of it and I would love to buy a farm"

Now all of us here discussing buying and living in a farm have never ever roughed it out in a farm. All we have done is planted petunias and daisies, maybe a Japanese maple or two and grown tomatoes and okra in summer. We have no clue what it takes to raise a hen, to grow enough crop to sustain, to milk a cow, to live a life determined by the seasons. We just think it is wonderful and quaint.

What is it that makes farm life so glamorous? Or is it people like me who thinks it is glorified ? I am like that, for a while after a trip to Goa, I thought having a shanty shop selling tea and omlette at the bend of curve is the best thing to do.

Maybe for you it is the life of the Wall Street Banker eating sushi and doing power yoga on the move that is most glamorous. So what kind of life attracts you ?

What kind of a life do you dream of when you are dreaming or are you rooted to the present and think you have already gotten that perfect life.

Tell me, I am all ears.





Now to the cauliflower. Cauliflower is one of my best loved veggies. I just don't understand when people say cauliflower smells or it is bland. I am sure they are picking up the wrong kind. This cauliflower in yogurt sauce or Doi Fulkopi is something both my Ma and Ma-in-law makes. Flavored with whole spices like cloves and cinnamon, it has a rich fragrance. There is almost no other spices used than the Garam masala and wrapped in this fragrance doi fulkopi is the perfect winter dish to heat up a cold evening.



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Doi Fulkopi



Chop 1 medium sized cauliflower in big florets. Wash well and soak in warm water with a little salt for 15-20 mins. Remove from water after 20 mins.

In a big bowl add
1 cup of yogurt,
1 tsp of Ginger paste ,
1 tsp Garlic Paste,
1 tsp Red Chili powder,
1 tsp Biryani Masala/Garam masala
and salt
. Mix well till smooth.

Add the cauliflower florets to the above and mix so that the marinade coats each floret. Keep aside for 30 minutes

Heat white oil in a Kadhai/Saute Pan

Temper the oil with
1-2 small Bay leaf/TejPatta,
1"Cinnamon stick/Dalchini,
4 Cardamom/Elaichi,
4 Clove/Laung


When the spices sputter add 1 fat clove of garlic minced and paste of 1 onion. I make a rough paste of 1 red onion in the blender, you don't need a smooth paste

Fry with a sprinkle of sugar(optional) till the onion turns a pinkish brown

Add 1" ginger peeled and grated and saute

Add 1/2 tsp of Paprika for color and 1/2 tsp of R. Chili powder for heat. Adjust chilli powder to taste. Mix well

Pick the cauliflower florets from the marinade with a slotted spoon (or use your hands) and add to the above masala in the saute pan. Don't dunk the marinade at this time and keep it aside.
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp or more of Turmeric powder and fry the cauliflower

Once the cauliflower takes on some color, golden yellow with tinges of brown, lower heat and add the marinade

Cook the masala for a few minutes

Add salt about 1/3 cup of water and mix well

Cook till the cauliflower is just done. If you need to add more water to cook the cauliflower add some but this dish does not have a flowing gravy so be aware. Taste for seasonings and adjust.

Sprinkle 1/2-1 tsp of Garam Masala on the cauliflower, mix well and let it sit to absorb the flavors. Serve hot with Roti or rice. This tastes best when cooked on the same day as serving.



Trivia: Mark Twain called cauliflower "nothing but cabbage with a college education." I say it has been well educated to move up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cholar Dal -- uppity chana dal




I have no time today, really none, nada, no time at all. And yet I need to post this, which I cooked for no reason, really none but for Sra who is hosting MLLA -- 17. You can never imagine things you would do for a blog friendship and that includes sneaking upstairs to a darkened room to make a call to one's favorite blogger while real life friends and family banter down.

Cholar Dal is the dal with uber arrogance. It is a bit of a snob, not the kind you would like to come home to every day but the kind you would like to glamorize your dining table with when you have company. Standing alone, presumptuous, it might not seem to be the best thing to befriend. But when it has company with Kachuri or Luchi or even a Pulao it will dazzle you.





Cholar Dal narkel diye or cholar dal with coconut is a very popular bengali dish and is a fixed item on the menu on wedding feasts or during Durga puja bhog. It is mostly cooked on special occasions and that could be the only-son's-getting-the-visa-day to the only-son's-homecoming-day. Usually it is not an everyday dal though you could have it everyday and there is no one stopping you.

When I made it last week, I did not have coconut and so skipped it, instead I adorned the dal with almonds. It was delicious and all I wanted with it was some Kachuri. Maybe another day, another time.

This Dal goes to Sra for MLLA --17, brainchild of Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook



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Cholar Dal


Pressure Cook 1 cup of Chana Dal/Cholar Dal with
almost 2 & 1/2 cups of water
1 green cardamom,
1 clove,
1/4 tsp of turmeric
and little salt
for 6 minutes after steam has built up in the cooker or say about 10-12 mins on the whole. The lentils should be soft and cooked by this time, if not you need to cook more. Note: Once cooked, you may fish out the whole cardamom and whole clove from the dal. I will sometimes skip the whole garam masalas while pressure cooking and add only later.

Heat 1 tbsp of Oil (or Ghee) in a Kadhai or in a soup pot. Note: Ghee works best for this dal, if you don't want to use ghee as the cooking medium, add half a tsp towards the end for flavor.

Temper the oil with
1 small bay leaf,
2-3 green cardamom/elaichi,
2-3 clove/laung,
1" thin stick of cinnamon
and 2 dry red chili

Add a pinch of asafoetidia/hing to the oil

When you get the aroma of the spices add the cooked dal to the pot and saute. Do not add the dal water at this point. Reserve the dal water for later use.

Add a fistful of golden raisins, salt to taste, a pinch or two of turmeric and mix well. You can add a little grated ginger, I don't necessarily do it always.

Add about 1/2 - 1 cup of water and let the dal simmer till it comes to a boil. This dal will be on the thicker side and not very liquid, so simmer till it reaches a thick consistency.

Just before taking off the heat add 1/2 tsp of sugar and mix. Add 1/2 tsp of ghee if you have not used ghee for cooking. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Tip: If you are not used to whole garam masalas in your dal, fish out the cardamom, clove, bay leaf and cinnamon from the dal at this point.

Garnish with fried pieces of coconut. Since I didn't have coconut I garnished with blanched slivered almonds. You can also add a little grated coconut as the garnish.

Tip: A friend suggested adding a little Kasoori Methi to the dal at the very end for non-Bong touch. Have never tried that myself but she said it lends a nice flavor.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quick Chicken Stir Fry -- for the kids





"Baby A loves to tickle and get tickled. She will stand in front of her big sis, pick up her sis's shirt and poke her sis's belly button saying "tikol-tikol". Big Sis S will stand there, wriggle, laugh out loud and aid the process. Wrapped up in such laughter, I pause my worries about Baby A's health and join in the merriment"

"We are back from a late dinner. Baby A is still awake, doesn't want to sleep yet though its way past bed time. I put both the sisters to bed, trying in vain to make them sleep. Big Sis S holds baby A tight, sings a "made up" song and pats vigorously. Strangely Baby A falls asleep. Doesn't happen every day but when it does, is the rare times that I feel blessed"

"Big Sis S is excited about an age old Mac, that her Dad has handed down to her. She browses over to Nick Jr to play something. Then she asks her Dad "Pichone tar ta ki lagano ache?"(Is the computer plugged in ?). "Why would you need it to be plugged in?" asks her Dad wondering if the battery is low. "This game here says Flash Plug-in required", she says"

"Baby A will call her Baba -- Babba, she will call her sis -- Babba, she will call me -- Babba. Unless she is in distress she will not say "Mamma" and if I say "Mamma bolo, Mamma" she will pat herself. Weird !!!" Recent Update: she is now calling me "Mamma", hurray but only 50% of the time

I am thankful for these moments. I am thankful for the freedom to blog, to retreat into a world where I can forget my cares. I am thankful for being around.

Appreciate the small moments that each day brings and once in a while try to be thankful for them. I am not a pro at this, just trying.

Happy Thanksgiving. See you all next week.





While you are busy making the turkey or whatever that you do on Thanksgiving, you might need a simple yet appetizing recipe for the kiddos. This Quick Stir Fry Chicken is really quick and easy and tastes great. Every kid should love it, ok at least like it.

"Does S, your almost 6 year old, like it ?" you, the regular reader might ask.

I would gulp a few and be totally honest, just because you are the regular reader.

"Well I am not sure", I will say. "She liked it at least 3 times in the last 3 years and that is something."

And then I will say "But the last time I made it which is just a couple days back, she preferred the Pepper Shrimp to Chicken Stir fry. Actually even the other kid who was invited, took several servings of Pepper Shrimp and only one of this."

Just ignore that discussion, I love this dish and so does D. I follow almost the same recipe when I make a chili chicken, will post that sometime. For now, if you have adults in mind add some chopped green chilis and a dash of hot sauce, it will make them swoon.


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Quick Chicken Stir Fry



Marinate 2& 1/2 -- 3 lb chicken cut in small pieces with
1 tsp of Garlic paste,
1 tsp of Ginger paste,
and salt for an hour or half

When you are ready to cook add
1&1/2 tsp of Soy Sauce or Tamari,
1 beaten egg
& 1 tbsp of Corn flour
to the chicken pieces and combine

Heat Oil in a wok or kadhai or a saute pan

Add the chicken pieces in a single layer and fry till they are lightly browned. Remove the lightly fried chicken pieces and keep aside

To the same oil, add 1 clove of garlic finely minced. Note: If for grownups, add 2-3 green chili finely chopped

When you get the flavor of garlic( careful don't burn the garlic) add 1 cup sliced onions. Fry till onion is pinkish brown.

Add 1/2 cup of french cut beans and 1 red/yellow/green bell pepper thinly sliced. Saute for 2-3 minutes

Add 1 tsp of Soy sauce + 1-2 tsp of tomato ketchup(the kids brand) + salt and mix. Note: Soy sauce has salt so careful. Instead of tomato ketchup add some Hot sauce or Sambal Olek if it intended for grown ups.

Add the fried chicken pieces & saute for couple more minutes combining the sauce and veggies. Add about 1/4 cup of water and cook uncovered till chicken is done

Serve with fried rice or noodles

Similar Recipes:


Chicken Fry

Ginger Chicken -- My Style

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bengali Fish Fry --- anglo bangla fry





The Bengali fish fry is not really the everyday bengali fish fry. The everyday bengali fish fry is actually the maach bhaja, steak pieces of fish, smeared with salt and turmeric and fried golden in smoking mustard oil. The maach bhaja can be eaten on its own as a side with the dal. It is also a precursor to the bengali fish curry, the every day maacher jhol, bengalis rarely make a fish curry where the fish has not been fried and it is these fried steak pieces that are slid into the gravy and left to simmer to complement each other.

However when a Bong says "Fish Fry" with a glazed look in his eyes and a dreamy smile, don't get fooled, he isn't thinking of Katrina Kaif, she isn't dreaming Hugh Grant, both are thinking of a Bong version of their British legacy, breaded and fried fish, famously known as what else but "Fish Fry".

The "Fish Fry" was not a household name when I was a child. First we weren't in the heart of Bengal ever and secondly my childhood now seems to go back to the days when life was very different from today's. I had my first taste of fish fry when we were attending some family wedding in Kolkata, I don't remember when. The taste was heavenly as everything else tasted in wedding feasts of the yore but the fish fry stood out because of its anglo heritage among the radhaballavi, cholar dal, begun bhaja and such.

We then had it at some specific Calcutta restaurants, probably "Bijoli Grill". Though honestly I preferred the Kobiraji Cutlet around College Street, and associated "Fish Fry" more with wedding feasts.

Gradually everyone realized that making "Fish Fry" with bhetki(the preferred fish for making fish fry in Bengal) wasn't really such a big deal after all and almost every other house started making a fish fry. Every wedding feast had a Fish Fry and later Fish Orly on their menu.





We rarely make fried goodies at home and by the time I make an attempt I forget the recipe I followed maybe a year back. The recipe that I have used this time here is that of my friend's, the domestic diva of 70 chops, everyone else's recipe is almost exactly same so go on be creative.

The crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, fish fry tastes great as a snack with hot tea on the side and company to keep you warm. It also acts as a wonderful appetizer or even a side to the main menu when you are entertaining.


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Bengali Fish Fry



I had 3 fillets of Tilapia cut in 12 pieces, each fillet in 4 that is. Each piece was about a 3"x 2" piece or smaller. You can use fillet of fish like Bhetki if in India or Cod, Tilapia when Bhetki is not available.

Make a paste of
1/2 of a small red onion,
2 fat cloves of garlic,
1/2" piece of peeled and chopped ginger(or 1 tbsp of peeled & chopped ginger),
2 green chili
with little water
. This is the paste that will be used to marinate the fish.

Put the fish pieces in one single layer in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle salt to taste on them.

Marinade the fish pieces with the
paste in step 2
,
1 tbsp of vinegar or lime juice,
1 tsp of corriander powder,
1 tsp of Roasted Cumin Powder &
1/4 tsp of Garam Masala
. All of the fish pieces should be nicely coated with the marinade

Cover & refrigerate overnight. If in a hurry, half an hour to an hour is fine.

Before you start frying, take each of the fish pieces out from the marinade and drain the excess liquid.

Set up a "breading station". First have a
flat plate of bread crumbs seasoned with salt and black pepper(you can also use all purpose flour seasoned with salt & pepper)
,

next a shallow bowl of 2 eggs whisked to a smooth consistency,

another flat plate of bread crumbs seasoned with salt & black pepper.

In a small Kadhai or Frying pan(suitable for deep frying) heat enough oil for deep frying.

Take the fish piece, roll it in bread crumb(or flour) --> dip it in the egg wash --> roll in bread crumb again gently rolling off any excess --> and then gently slide in the hot oil.

When the fish has nicely browned on both sides take out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Enjoy it hot off the Fryer with some mustard sauce or my all time favorite Maggi Hot & Sweet. A side of chopped onions & cucumber works wonder

If you are a vegetarian don't be disappointed you can make Paneer fingers just like this from here at Cooking and Recipes.



BTW was Chef Mehta on The Next Iron Chef using a bottle of Maggi Ketchup yesterday ? Was it me or did anyone else notice that ?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Madhur Jaffrey's Chicken Korma




You know how prophecies come true. How when I said cook books weigh down on me while food memoirs don't I was actually treading into this little trap set out be me alone. Well so this Madhur Jaffrey book had family recipes towards the end which I initially didn't notice and then chose to ignore. The pace at which I was reading, I had already renewed the book thrice, paid an accumulating fine of $9 and was all ready to return it after the last chapter. But that was not to happen.

I turned the page, read the recipes, well some of them and thought let me try at least a couple before I return this. So I renewed the book again and there went 4 more weeks without me cooking a single thing from that book. Somehow the book & me were never on the same floor together, if I was in the Kitchen, the book was upstairs or in the basement or some place else but never at a hand's reach. Mostly it sat on the bedside table, the recipes beckoning to get cooked, while I paid some more fine.




Finally couple of weekends back there were some friends visiting and I wanted a chicken recipe simple and different. This is when I found Murgh Korma, a chicken dish made of yogurt and almonds tucked away among the few recipes in the book. The chicken korma sounded delicious, olde-worlde delicious, different from the Chicken Korma recipes out there, even different from Madhur Jaffrey's own Chicken Korma on the BBC site. I made it because of the simplicity of the recipe and because of the almonds. The dish turned out to be a reward, a deliciousness worth of 6 months of renting a book, not to mention the fines.

Here I have reproduced exactly the author's version of the Chicken Korma with Almonds in a Yogurt Sauce as in her memoir "Climbing the Mango Trees". She must have changed the recipe later to cater to a more western audience and a faster lifestyle. Try the original, it still is fast enough and the taste is worth it. I have added my own subtle changes in a separate section.


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Chicken Korma


What You Need

Ginger ~ 2&1/2" peeled and chopped

Garlic ~ 4-5 cloves

Almonds ~ 3 tbsp of blanched & slivered almonds

Yogurt ~ 1&1/2 cup

Garam Masala Powder ~ 1&1/2 tsp (Use your own or make one according to the author as posted here)

Corriander powder ~ 1 tbsp

Cayenne pepper ~ 1-1/2 tsp to taste

Onions ~ 2 medium

Cinnamon ~ 2" stick

Cardamom ~ 8 whole pods

Bay Leaves ~ 2

Chicken ~ 3&1/4 lb

Golden raisins ~ 2 tbsp

Cilantro ~ 3 tbsp finely chopped

How Madhur Jaffrey Did It

Put ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup of water in a blender. Blend until you have a smooth paste. add the almonds, 2 tbsp of water and blend till you get a smooth paste

Put Yogurt in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the garam masala, corriander pwd, cayenne & salt. Stir well to mix

Heat Oil in a large saute pan

Put in the sliced onions and fry for 10-12 mins till reddish brown. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel

Now to the oil add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves

A minute later add the chicken pieces, only as many as possible in a single layer. Brown the chicken pieces lightly on both sides, removing to a bowl when done. Do this for all chocken pieces.

Add the golden raisins. Add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2 minutes

Now put in the chicken, the yogurt and the fried onions. Stir to mix and bring to simmer on medium heat. Cover and cook for 25-30 mins at low heat until chicken is tender. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve

How I Did It

Put ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup of water in a blender. Blend until you have a smooth paste. add the almonds, 2 tbsp of water and blend till you get a smooth paste. I went a little low on the ginger, I had almost 5lb of chicken and still the same amount of ginger. Garlic & Almonds I doubled because I had more chicken.

Put Yogurt in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the garam masala, corriander pwd, cayenne & salt. Stir well to mix. I added both Kashmiri Mirch and Red Chili Powder.

I marinated the chicken with little ginger paste, garlic paste, lime juice, salt and a pinch of turmeric powder for an hour or two

Heat Oil in a large saute pan

Put in the a quarter of the sliced onions and fry for 10-12 mins till soft and pinkish brown. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel

Now add the chicken pieces, only as many as possible in a single layer. Brown the chicken pieces lightly on both sides, removing to a bowl when done. Do this for all chicken pieces.

Now to the oil add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves

Add the rest of the chopped onions and fry till the onions are a pinkish brown

Add the golden raisins. Add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 2 minutes or till oil separates from the masala.

Lower the heat and add the yogurt.
Stir to mix and bring to simmer on low heat. Adjust for seasonings. I add a little sugar at this point. Now put in the chicken. Stir to mix and bring to simmer on medium heat. Add water if you need more gravy. Cover and cook for 25-30 mins at low heat until chicken is tender.

Adjust for salt and seasonings. Garnish with the fried onions. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve

To Make Punjabi Garam Masala used in Madhur Jaffrey's recipe:

Put in a spice grinder
1 tbsp of cardamom seeds
1 tsp of whole black peppercorns
1 tsp of whole black cumin seeds
1 tsp of cloves
1/3 of a nutmeg
2" stick of cinnamon

Grind finely and store in an air tight jar. This makes about 3 tbsp of Garam Masala

Kashmiri Mirch on Foodista




Trivia: Korma has its roots in the Mughlai cuisine of modern-day India. It is a characteristic Persian-Indian dish which can be traced back to the 16th century and to the Mughal incursions into present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Classically, a korma is defined as a dish where meat or vegetables are braised with water, stock, yoghurt or cream.